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Q&A: Microsoft's Douglas Burgum talks up ERP, CRM products

He pledged 'a strong commitment' to the company's product lines

By Marc L. Songini
March 25, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Douglas Burgum, a senior vice president at Microsoft Corp. and president of the Microsoft Business Solutions division, was on hand this week for the Convergence 2004 user conference in Kissimmee, Fla. At the event, he spoke with Computerworld about the future of the four ERP lines Microsoft has acquired, as well as its CRM applications. Burgum also talked up Project Green, the company's effort to integrate a variety of business process applications.
Can you give us some idea of how big Microsoft is relative to competitors such as SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc.? We're definitely in growth mode, and I wouldn't frame [our position] as relative to competitors. We see the bulk of our business today in the small and mid markets, and those companies are focused on the enterprise. The majority of our competition we see in the highly fragmented segments of the small and mid markets, where we're particularly strong and we have a growing market position.
Companies like Siebel Systems Inc. and SAP are moving into that area, though. This is a market that Great Plains [software] has been in for 20 years, and that's the market that the enterprise players [such as SAP] are entering. They are new market entrants trying to move downmarket into a space where we have established channel partnerships and have a large installed base and a strong number of ISVs [independent software vendors] and products optimized for this market.
Do you offer hosted CRM, such as Siebel does? We have hosted CRM with Surebridge [Inc.] for some time. Those who want it are not 100% of the market. The customers looking for on-premise CRM are a larger part of the market.
Will the delay of Longhorn affect your product development plans? Yes, it does affect our plans. The efforts are taking advantage of innovations in Longhorn, but the important thing is to decouple it with the arrival of Green [the next-generation software]. We will be standing on the shoulders of Longhorn, which will include a new operating system, a new interface, a new file system and all the benefits of the new operating system. We're building on that, and we'll have all the tools of Longhorn Visual Studio and the .Net tool system, and that will be part of the Longhorn wave.
One area of improvement will be the ability to do rapid customization at the customer level [while retaining] the ability of upgrading that change to new versions of the product. That has been a bit of a Holy Grail. Also, the Dr. Watson [error-reporting

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